Health and Wellness

The emerging artists exploring resistance in the Mediterranean

Taking place across many of Malta’s culturally-historic locations and curated by independent curator Sofia Baldi Pighi, the Art Biennale unfolds in a series of site-specific installations, outdoor performances, and displays that combine to give the impression of interventions into history. Under the overarching theme white sea olive groves, the Biennale is split into four themes: one explores the vital importance of the sea to the island and its surrounding Mediterranean countries, and combatting isolationist policies in the middle of the migrant crisis; another looks at the history of piracy – and slavery – to the island nation; another configures Malta and its past under a lens of decolonisation; and the final thematic chapter explores womanhood and the idea of the matri-archive, in a Maltese context which has a long history of misogyny. For the latter, in patriarchal, weaponry-filled venues like the Grandmaster’s Palace, Maltese ceramicist Nina Gerada’s miniature army of feminine forms counter the masculine environment of the halls of power. Elsewhere, a large, site-specific canvas by Teresa Antignani, a surrealist re-rendering of Florentino’s Deposition of the Cross (1521), clearly shows the Maltese capital of Valetta and is the artist’s tribute to the outsized number of accidents on the construction sites of Malta’s hyper-accelerated developments, including the fatal one of young worker Jean Paul Sofia in late 2022 – in her re-interpretation, Jesus is a woman.

Other highlights across Malta and the smaller, less-often spotlighted, island of Gozo, include a film by Rosa Barba in the spooky underground caves of Valletta; a multi-media installation re-compassing the life of freed 18th century slave Cara Mehmed by American artist Joseph Cochran II in the light-filled Birgu Armoury; and a dystopian installation in the darkened storehouse of the Conspicua docks by Italian-Ethiopian-Eritrean transdisciplinary artist Jermay Michael Gabriel, accompanied by a performance which called for a free Palestine. In the similarly atmospheric plane of the mystical archaeological site of Ggantija, Ibrahim Mahama crafted a plateau of concrete sculptures which combined tombstone materials from Amsterdam and Mahama’s hometown of Tamale in Ghana – stones that, like the ancient ruins of the site, the artist refers to as a “kind of teleportation device.” Perhaps this Malta Biennale begins to articulate a new kind of structure for such international art events: one that, even among glorious sunshine and impressive sights, doesn’t ignore the power structures that have held such institutions and buildings up in the first place. is brought to you by Heritage Malta’s MUŻA, the National Museum of Art with the full cooperation and participation of a number of other organisations. It runs until May 31, 2024.

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  • Source of information and images “dazeddigital”

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